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class action zombie armies

April 21, 2014

Forbes: “General Mills Consumers Give Up Rights To What, Exactly?” by Daniel Fisher is a response to NYTimes article by Stephanie Strom about click-wrap agreements and “cereal class action”. Fisher claims that Strom:

conflates the individual right to sue with the right of lawyers to assemble huge groups of consumers, typically without their knowledge or participation, into zombie armies that can compel companies into settling on lucrative terms.

zombie daniel fisher forbes

Fisher explains that while it might be possible to get customers to click an online button and exempt themselves from class actions, this arbitration clause could potentially help an individual with a small claim that is not a class action.

However, if enough customers did that, then maybe it might be the end to class actions because there might not be enough money to make it worthwhile.

Megan Hathcher-Mays at Media Matters for America takes the position of defending the value of class actions, “Forbes Paints Rosy Picture Of Anti-Consumer Arbitration Provisions That Ban Class Actions“:

Fisher’s claim that the Times “conflates” an individual’s right to sue with class actions is a rather disingenuous distinction on his part. Far from representing “zombie armies” of consumers, class actions have become one of the most efficient ways to litigate group claims that represent a common injury. As Fisher himself explains in his column, “no lawyer would ever take a small case against General Mills” — which is exactly why class action lawsuits exist in the first place. Because individual claims are often of little value on their own, it’s unlikely that consumers would bring them at all unless they were combined with other similar claims.

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